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Birds or Balls in Flight?

Why is a Council ignoring 65,000 residents?

Elvaston Castle Country Park is a 325 acre country park 4 miles outside Derby City Centre. It was the first country park in England, opened in 1970 and is administered by Derbyshire County Council. It is visited and enjoyed by 700,000 people a year.

223 acres of this constitute a County Wildlife Site and within this area, a further 35 acres or thereabouts are designated as a Local Nature Reserve. The LNR contains a lake and a wader scrape which was cut a few years back using money from landfill tax grants. There is a lockable hide which is accessible to whoever wishes to use it, having requested the key from the park rangers. There are rare bat species here, including Daubenton`s and a 60% rating for otter sightings from the hide was given several years ago by a trained otter spotter.Derbyshire County Council is attempting to sell a 99 year lease on the entire park to a real estate developer, who wishes to turn the grade 2* listed house into an hotel, with 150 bedrooms, gymnasium and swimming pool, and the majority of the rest of the park into an eighteen hole international standard golf course, with all facilities and a floodlit driving range. They have doggedly pursued the disposal of the park via these means despite a public petition of over 65,000 signatures against it.

As part of the golf complex the developers wish to take the Local Nature Reserve. Apart from wanting to drive their balls through it, we believe that they also want the water from the lakes and the wader scrape to cover the massive irrigation requirements of a modern golf course, which at the very minimum would be at least half the daily intake of the surrounding five villages! This will mean nitrogenous fertiliser and pesticide run-off into the River Derwent, into which the lower lake discharges.Last week, on seeing a conjectured map of the golf course in the Derby Evening Telegraph, which had been produced by the Friends of Elvaston, (and was not disputed by either the Derbyshire County Council or the developers), a lady who visits the park and nature reserve several times a week, and who is an avid bird spotter, got in touch with the friends. She is so concerned and angry at the Derbyshire County Council`s proposals, especially with regard to the destruction of the Local Nature Reserve, she supplied us with a list of species that she has seen at the LNR and can personally verify.

On her list are approximately eighty species of birds as well as fifteen other animal species. Amongst the birds are Water Rail, Little Egret, Red-breasted Goose, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Redwing, Yellowhammer, Little, Tawny and Barn Owls, an [escapee] Eagle Owl (which has become quite a celebrity!), Goldcrest, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Nuthatch, and Treecreeper. Last September there was a visit from a Firecrest which many birders went and viewed, including the Official Recorder for the East Midlands. Another birder claims to have seen the bird the previous year.Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have said that there is the possibility that a floodlit driving range (10-15 acres), could disrupt the nightly foraging flight path of the bat species. It will most certainly disrupt every other animal in the park, as well as the local residents of Thulston and Elvaston. As it is only a mile or two from the East Midlands Airport, birds and bats might not be the only things disturbed whilst in flight if a large area of the park becomes floodlit 24 hours a day! We would urge anyone who can voice objections to this insanity to do so as soon as possible.

Graham Mansey, Secretary, Friends of Elvaston.

I thought councils were supposed to serve the people. Not sell off the family silver Fatbirder

4th July 2014